WILKES-BARRE — Lou’s Garage has been a part of the downtown community for 71 years and, aside from moving across the street, has maintained its location throughout that time.

Lou Dal Santa Jr. and his brother Chris currently run the show, but their father, Lou Sr., started the family business years ago. While Chris worked on some cars in the garage, Lou Jr. spent some time telling their story to a reporter.

Located at 80 E. North St., across from Turkey Hill on Pennsylvania Ave., Dal Santo Jr. explained, “Originally we were on the corner where Turkey Hill is. (From) 1951, we had a Mobil gas station for 26 years, and then they were going to renovate Valley Cross on North Street, so they bought that property, a great area. We owned property here, and we built a new garage in ’76.”

Dal Santo Jr. estimates that about 75% of their business comes from car sales, with the remaining 25% from maintenance and repair services.

“We’ve been Volkswagen since the ’60s, and then Honda has been our specialty for the last 40 years,” Dal Santo Jr. said. “We are mainly engaged in import sales. So a late model, high end, quality import” plus the aforementioned maintenance and repairs.

Of course, like many other businesses, Lu has had to weather the storm that was the pandemic, but Dal Santo Jr. explained that things are not so bad. “We were still able to keep our heads above water,” he noted, although he said business was down about 40%. “We’ve been an important industry, so we’ve stayed open all the time, and amazingly, we haven’t lost any money … we’re essentially selling the second most expensive product people buy in their lifetime.”

At the end of 2022, he said it was a good year, and that, well, that’s okay.

“The other part of it is that my brother and I are slowing down a little bit, so it also helps the fact that we’re, you know, we’re not retired, but we’re getting close to retirement. We are slowly retiring, and the pandemic has definitely accelerated that process. But for us, where we are at our stage of business, it is not the worst thing. I mean, if we had been much earlier in the process, it would have been really bad,” he said.

Lou Jr. has been in the business for 40 years, not counting the time he spent there as a kid sweeping floors and helping out where he could.

“It was a very important part of my whole family. It has supported my entire family, which is huge. There are eight brothers and sisters, and it benefited all of them,” he noted and later added that thanks to “foresight and hard work” the parents got to where they are today.”

He also noted the importance of being part of a community.

“We have a lot of people who come to us to buy from us or have their cars repaired, as well as get basic maintenance or any other automotive needs. We were very community friendly. We were always friendly with everyone. … We’ve seen it change over the years, but we’ve always been community-friendly, and we feel like that’s benefited us, and it’s benefited us,” Dal Santo Jr. noted.

And to that community, he added, “We thank them for being a part of our lives and for being a part of this.”

No word yet on when Lou’s Garage will hang it. With a laugh, Lou Jr. quipped, “We had a two-year plan for 10 years!”

According to their website, www.lousgarage.com, the garage is currently open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The phone number is listed as 570-825-3368. Inventory and a full list of services are also available through the website.